Greenland Halibut/Turbot | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

Greenland Halibut/Turbot

Reinhardtius hippoglossoides

Also known as

Newfoundland turbot, flatty, turbot, blue halibut, black halibut

Distribution

Circumpolar. In the northeast Pacific from Alaska to Mexico, and in the northwest Atlantic

Écosystèmes/habitats

Soft bottoms in arctic and temperate waters

Feeding Habits

Active predator

Conservation Status

Not listed

Taxonomie

Order Pleuronectiformes (flatfishes); Family Pleuronectidae (right-eye flounders)

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Greenland halibut are a large flatfish that have both eyes on the right side of their head. Their close relatives, the Atlantic halibut and Pacific halibut, use this design to swim flat against the ocean floor, as do Greenland halibut. However, Greenland halibut are also known to swim vertically, thanks to their eyes being closer to the front of their head than their relatives, allowing them to look forward while swimming upright. Greenland halibut use this ability to swim vertically to help them migrate and forage for food. 

Greenland halibut have been harvested traditionally in Northeastern Canada and Greenland by Indigenous Peoples for centuries, and commercially since the mid-1800s. Initially fished using traditional baited hook-and-line methods, today they are mostly caught by gillnets. The Gulf of St. Lawrence Greenland halibut fishery started as a bycatch fishery by fishermen who were targeting shrimp. Any Greenland halibut caught incidentally as bycatch in the shrimp fishery were retained and eaten or sold, eventually leading to a viable market for this species and the development of a targeted gillnet fishery in 1979. Greenland halibut are targeted in Alaska, but in British Columbia they are only part of the mixed groundfish fishery and are not considered a main species.